Jimmy Carter Gains Support From (the Great) Siegman

Henry Siegman has again and again proved a leader on the Israel/Palestine issue. His review of Jimmy Carter’s apartheid-in-Palestine book in the Nation offers breathtaking relief from the smear campaign against Carter. His piece concludes with an explanation of Carter’s enormous contribution to Israel’s security.

Accusations by Alan Dershowitz and others that Carter is indifferent to Israel’s security only prove that no good deed goes unpunished. Arguably, the single most important contribution to Israel’s security by far was the removal of Egypt–possessing the most powerful of the military forces in the Arab world–from the Arab axis that was intent on the destruction of the State of Israel in its early years. Egypt’s peace agreement with Israel permanently removed the possibility of such a combined Arab assault against the Jewish State, something for which the late Syrian president Hafez Assad could not get himself to forgive Sadat, even after he was assassinated….

Carter’s book provides an important reminder that the Camp David agreement not only created a durable peace between Egypt and Israel but served as a model for all of the major Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives that were to follow. Oslo’s concepts of a self-governing Palestinian Authority, of a five-year process that concludes with agreements on permanent-status issues, of negotiations on such issues that begin no later than in the third year of the agreement and of an armed Palestinian police force to maintain order are all spelled out in the Camp David agreement. And the outline of what an Israeli-Palestinian settlement would have to look like if an agreement is to be reached is also adumbrated in the Camp David accords of 1978, which included Begin’s acceptance of Egypt’s insistence on the return of all Egyptian territory held by Israel. The magnitude of that accomplishment places the pettiness of the critics of President Carter and his latest book in proper perspective.